COVID infection rates are rising across the UK, forcing more people to self-isolate and putting pressure on their finances.
The UK recorded more than 40,000 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, as the virus continued to spread.
The vaccine appears to have been successful in reducing serious illness and deaths.
But those that test positive for the virus, and their contacts, still have to stay at home for ten days.
The latest figures showed that half a million Brits received a notification from the NHS Covid app telling them to self isolate between July 1 and 7.
People who have been told to self-isolate but can't work from home – and aren't eligible for sick pay – could find themselves in a difficult financial situation.
But there are several grants and benefits you may be eligible to claim instead.
Here's everything you need to know about who is entitled to sick pay, and how to get extra help if you don't qualify.
Who can claim statutory sick pay?
You might be able to get statutory sick pay (SSP) if you're isolating due to the pandemic, even if you aren't sick yourself.
SSP is £96.35 per week and it is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
However, this doesn't apply to self-employed workers.
There are several other restrictions on who can claim SSP, for example you can't access it if you've already received the payment for 28 weeks.
Other limits include having had a baby in the past 14 weeks, being in the armed forces or being an agricultural worker.
You must also earn on average at least £120 per week before tax to claim SSP.
Coronavirus Self-Isolation Payment
If you don't qualify for sick pay, you may be eligible for a one-off payment of £500.
You must be self isolating, or caring for a child who has been told to stay home, and be unable to work from home.
To get the Coronavirus Self-Isolation Payment you also have to be in receipt of certain benefits or on a low income.
Applications should be made through your local authority – you can find out which council area you live in online.
Remember to apply before the cut off date, which is 42 days after you were told to self-isolate.
Covid Local Support Grant
The government has also launched a Covid Local Support Grant, which will end in September.
People can apply to get grants directly from their councils for help with food, bills and other essentials.
The help available varies between different councils, so check with your local authority to see what is on offer in your area.
Employment and Support Allowance
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is usually given to people who have a disability or health condition that affects how much they can work.
But you might also be able to access ESA if you were unable to work while self-isolating or shielding because of Covid.
ESA is a contributory benefit, meaning you must have paid national insurance in the two full tax years before the year you are claiming in.
You can apply for ESA online, as long as you have your national insurance number and your bank details.
You will also need your doctor's contact details and information on your usual income, as well as proof you have been told to self-isolate.
This can be a doctors notefrom NHS 111 or an app notification.
If your claim is successful, you'll receive £73.10 per week.
But you’ll usually get your first ESA payment a few weeks after you apply, meaning it might not be that helpful for a 10 day isolation period.
What to do if you can't pay your rent or bills
If you're unable to pay your rent, the first step should be to speak to your landlord and explain the situation.
The eviction ban that was enforced to protect tenants during the pandemic came to an end last month.
But there are still things you can do to help cover your rent payments.
For example, you may qualify for the housing benefit portion of Universal Credit if you are on a low income and have savings below £16,000.
If that doesn't stretch far enough, you could make a claim for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) from your local council.
Brits that are struggling with problem debts can also can get a 60-day "breathing space" against prosecution and bailiffs.
During the breathing space period, debtors must work with professional advisers to get back on track with repayments, which could be useful if you've fallen into arrears on rent or bills.
If you're a homeowner, you should ask your mortgage provider for help if you're struggling to make payments.
They don't have to help, but they might agree to let you pay less each month.
During the height of the pandemic, banks offered customers three-month mortgage holidays.
The deadline to apply for a payment deferal has passed, but if you are in the middle of a mortgage break you can ask to extend it for a further three months.
You should ask them for a second deferral before the current one ends – they will usually agree.
But you can only get deferrals for six months in total.
If you think you might miss your gas and electricity bill payments, you should first contact your supplier.
They have to help you come up with a way of solving the problem, such as agreeing to a payment plan.
But if you don't talk to them about your situation, there is a chance they will threaten to cut off your supply.
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